Escaping to America: A True Story

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In an ancient forest near their home, Ida and Sammy picked wild berries for breakfast and wild mushrooms for soup. But a terrible war was being waged throughout their land.

Ida and Sammy and baby Ruthie were in great danger.

In 1921, the children's mother and father decided they all must flee. Despite the risks of travel, they knew that their best hope for a new life lay far away in America.

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Overview

In an ancient forest near their home, Ida and Sammy picked wild berries for breakfast and wild mushrooms for soup. But a terrible war was being waged throughout their land.

Ida and Sammy and baby Ruthie were in great danger.

In 1921, the children's mother and father decided they all must flee. Despite the risks of travel, they knew that their best hope for a new life lay far away in America.

This intensely personal yet universal story tells vividly of the losses suffered and hopes that triumphed. With great variety, the pictures reflect a full range of changing emotions. Accurate in every detail, they portray the times in a way that gives readers the unforgettable sense of being present during the struggle, and witnessing one family's enduring spirit.

Tells how the author's family left difficult conditions in Poland to make a better life for themselves in America early in the twentieth century.

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Editorial Reviews

CCBC Choices
The varied presentation of the art adds visual interest to the overall design of this full-hearted volume.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Schanzer (How We Crossed the West: The Adventures of Lewis and Clark) recounts how her father, at the age of three, in 1921 traveled with his family from Sochocin, Poland, to the United States. The author's explanations of the conditions that drove her grandparents, Abba and Pearl Goodstein, to emigrate with their three children are vague and cursory, especially given the target audience. Of the political and historical context, Schanzer writes, "Several different armies were chasing one another across the countryside and fighting a terrible war." Then Schanzer notes, also sketchily, "The Goodstein family was Jewish, and many peasants did not like the Jewish religion. Mobs in Sochocin beat up elderly Jews and smashed their shops. Troublemakers were accused of being spies, first for one side and then the other." The narrative more compellingly conveys the flight of the Goodsteins. After narrowly escaping from soldiers, they meet up with an American woman sent by Abba's sister in Knoxville, Tenn., who had obtained the necessary papers and tickets for the family's passage. Schanzer's detailed and dramatic pictures have a few weak spots (awkward foreshortening in one illustration, for example, gives the impression that Abba is being surrounded by a squad of midgets, not Cossacks). For the most part, however, they offer an affecting portrait of the Goodsteins and draw readers into the tale. Ages 8-12. (Aug.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
In 1921, the war in Poland causes Abba, Pearl and their three young children to flee their once peaceful homeland. What makes this different from most accounts of immigrant journeys to America is that, in addition to the perilous ocean voyage, it also details the joys and dangers of life in the small town they leave behind, and ends with a warm glimpse into the family life of their newly adopted country. Despite a few scenes that appear out of proportion, the colorful illustrations engagingly portray action and emotion, with portions spilling into the white space to add vitality and interest. Because it is a true account of the author's own grandparents, this tale brings history to life with real people and distinctive personal stories. Vague political and historical details, however, such as, "several different armies were chasing one another across the countryside and fighting a terrible war," seem too nonspecific for the publisher's target age of 8 to 12. The book's emphasis on more intimate aspects makes it a valuable book nonetheless, and a worthy tribute to the power of story as passed from one generation to the next. 2000, HarperCollins,
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-In this outstanding addition to the growing body of immigrant stories, the author tells why and how her Jewish grandparents and their children left Poland in 1921 for a new life in America. The lively, compelling text and the inviting, colorful illustrations (with especially vibrant blues) perfectly capture the beauty of the once-peaceful town; the dangers as war enveloped the land; the excitement of the trip to America; and, finally, the pure joy upon arriving and meeting family already here. In varied, striking layouts, the illustrations burst forth onto white borders, inviting readers to search out details. Schanzer has provided an absorbing, personal account of the journey of her own family, but the experiences-the fears, sufferings, losses, and hopes for a better life-mirror what many of today's immigrants have endured, making this book timeless.-Diane S. Marton, Arlington County Library, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Kirkus Reviews
In Poland during the early part of the 20th, century mobs often stopped elderly, harmless Jews on the street, beating them up or smashing their shops. At any time, the Polish army might "take all men of fighting age away from their families, never to be seen again." Abba and Pearl Goodstein decided in 1918 that they must leave Poland and head for America. Three years went by before Abba's older sister, who had moved to America 14 years earlier, had finally collected all the documents they needed. Leaving most of their possessions and all of their money, they loaded everything they could under a false bottom in a hay wagon, tied their pet cow to it, and pretended to be farmers going to the fields. Abba hid under the pile of hay and ran and hid when they heard soldiers coming. Arriving in Plinsk in plenty of time to get the train to Danzig, where their ship was waiting, further miseries lay in store. Steerage has been described in many books, but never so clearly for this younger age group. But the family made it to America and eventually to Tennessee. Telling her family's story, Schanzer draws pictures with words as well as with her art. Straightforward in execution, her illustrations convey the struggle without overloading the issues. On oversized pages, they alternate between two or three small vignettes and full-page spreads, sometimes stretching across two pages. Lots of white space for text and borders around the pictures adds an open feeling. Together, words and pictures present a frank and clear-cut introduction to Jewish immigration to America. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688169909
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
  • Publication date: 8/28/2000
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.35 (w) x 12.19 (h) x 0.45 (d)

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